MOBILE USERS: m.isthmus.com
Connect with Isthmus on Twitter · Facebook · Flickr · Newsletters · Instagram 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 46.0° F  Overcast
The Daily

MOVIES

'80s references disguise The Way, Way Back's lack of substance

The Way, Way Back taps into Generation X's nostalgia for the good ol' days, invoking Pac-Man and REO Speedwagon in a subtle homage to movies like The Flamingo Kid, in which teenage boys experience transformative summers on their way to adulthood. But these pop-culture signifiers contribute little to this contemporary coming-of-age tale set in a sleepy Cape Cod beach town. >More
 The Conjuring's lack of imagination is scarier than its demons

The Conjuring uses every parlor trick imaginable to scare up a scream: deafening door-slams, ghostly apparitions, demonic cackling, levitating chairs. But the seen-it-before elements of this supernatural thriller, directed by Saw's creator, are more hoary than horrific. It might as well be retitled The Amityville Exorcist. >More
 20 Feet From Stardom sings the praises of backup singers

20 Feet From Stardom is an extended hosanna to backup singers and the joyful noise they make. To chart the creative contributions of so-often-anonymous session vocalists, filmmaker Morgan Neville " a longtime music-doc director whose CV includes TV biographies of Hank Williams, Muddy Waters, Johnny Cash and Stax Records " samples six decades of American pop-music history. >More
 Pacific Rim's humans aren't as awesome as its deep-sea monsters

Long ago in suburban California, a boy named Scott watched a TV station whose programming seemed to consist entirely of Lakers games and monster movies. He grew up with big names like Godzilla and lesser-known gems like War of the Gargantuas, which feature 50-foot-tall villains and heroes. It was for kids like him, grownup or not, that Guillermo Del Toro made Pacific Rim. >More
 The Lone Ranger spends two hours smirking at its own jokes

Johnny Depp used to have movie buffs in the palm of his hand. Here was a too-pretty-to-be-true movie star who, instead of gravitating toward safe choices, hid his face behind funky makeup and facial hair. Even when he starred in a blockbuster franchise, Pirates of the Caribbean, it was in a role that few other stars would touch, let alone play the way he did. >More
 Despicable Me 2 adopts some of Hollywood's worst tropes

What makes Despicable Me 2 so frustrating is that its predecessor was challenging. Not challenging in a hugely subversive way, but it doesn't take much to shake up a Hollywood paradigm. Casting a villain as the hero in a cartoon comedy is one way. Filling out a cast with three wild -- and wildly individual -- little girls is another way. >More
 A volatile sleuth and a chilly FBI agent find common ground in The Heat

Director Paul Feig was savvy to reenlist breakout star Melissa McCarthy for his follow-up to the 2011 smash Bridesmaids. She's the best thing in The Heat, an amiable but routine action-comedy about a mismatched law enforcement pair trying to bring down a Boston drug lord. >More
 A Secret Service wannabe must save the president in White House Down

Roland Emmerich sure has an edifice complex: The filmmaker who severed the Statue of Liberty in The Day After Tomorrow, pulverized Manhattan in Godzilla and dive-bombed the White House in Independence Day is back for another shot at the president's abode. Following Olympus Has Fallen, White House Down is the second movie this year that has as its premise the takeover and destruction of the White House " and the similarities don't end there. >More
 Joss Whedon turns Much Ado About Nothing into a stylish, modern romp

The romantic banter in Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing flutters and flirts as it navigates a course of love that never runs smooth. It's a breath of fresh air in a dreary catalog of films based on Shakespeare's plays that either sag under the weight of the Bard's language or sacrifice the poetry in those words in the pursuit of realness. >More
 Monsters University is a lively lesson about perseverance

Ratatouille, like most of Pixar's feature films, has supporters who think it's a masterpiece. As brilliant as Brad Bird's direction and visual style are in that film, the story has always left me vaguely pissed off. And now, thanks to Monsters University, the new prequel to Monsters, Inc., there's a chance to show exactly why. >More
moviesmusiceats
Select a Movie
Select a Theater

Promotions Contact us Privacy Policy Jobs Newsletters RSS
Collapse Photo Bar